For over one hundred years, the writings of Henry Van Dyke have been lovingly passed down from generation to generation. His Christmas stories, especially, are as resonant today as when the Presbyterian minister first read them to his New York City congregation in the late 1890s. In this volume of Christmas stories and prayers, we read of courage, generosity, and the triumph of light over darkness, from The First Christmas Tree, a magical tale of the Thunder Oak and the false god Thor, to the lyrical story of The Christmas Angel in the Country beyond the Stars.
Henry Van Dyke, American clergyman, educator, and author, was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1852. Educated in theology at Princeton University and in Berlin, he served as a pastor for twenty years, first in Newport, Rhode Island, and then at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. In 1900 he became professor of English Literature at Princeton, and from 1913 to 1916 he was United States minister to the Netherlands. Later, as naval chaplain he was awarded the Legion of Honor. The Story of the Other Wise Man, written in 1896, and The First Christmas Tree, 1897, were first read aloud to his congregation in New York. His Christmas sermons, essays, poetry, and short stories, revealing a classical education combined with a charming, down-to-earth sensibility, have made him a popular and enduring writer. Van Dyke died in 1933.